Canes Now

Staal staying on the wing for now

It appears Eric Staal will be staying on the left wing on Victor Rask's line.

And Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin on Jay McClement's line.

Canes coach Bill Peters made those line changes Monday during the 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, and Staal was back on the wing Wednesday in practice -- the Canes had Tuesday off.

Peters had Staal and Zach Boychuk on Rask's line in the Calgary game but used Jiri Tlusty on the right side in practice. Boychuk and Chris Terry were centered by Pat Dwyer, while the Riley Nash line with Nathan Gerbe and Elias Lindholm remained unchanged.

"It's different," Staal said of being on the wing. "It depends on what type of game it is, to be honest. I like having the puck, I like being around the puck. Last game was good. I thought our line generated a lot."

Staal was a winger for Canada in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and was briefly a winger with brother Jordan Staal at center with the Canes. It's something Peters discussed as an option in training camp before Jordan suffered a broken leg in preseason.

"We talked about it from Day One and came in said why wait? Why wait until Jordan comes back?" Peters said. "We've talked about doing it so we might as well do it now.

"(Eric's) a big, strong guy who plays north-south and he wants to work. I think he'll be effective there in the short term and maybe possibly the long term, allowing him to drive the net and play more of a power-forward type game and be strong on pucks in the offensive zone. Victor's been a good player who has been responsible in all three zones and, I think, has the ability to get him the puck."

Peters moved Jeff Skinner onto Eric Staal's line in Saturday's game at Washington and opened the Calgary game with a Skinner-Staal-Semin line. He quickly changed up, mixing and matching his lines against the Flames.

Staal had five shots against the Flames, matching his season high. Skinner, meanwhile, had seven shots and scored his 100th career goal.

The Canes, 5-0-1 in November, face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at PNC Arena. Cam Ward will again be in net, Peters said Wednesday.

The Jets are coming off a 3-0 loss in Montreal and will be playing their third straight road game. Winnipeg topped the Canes 3-1 on Oct. 21 on the first stop of Carolina's four-game Canadian road trip.

"It's always tight," Staal said of Canes-Jets games. "They check hard, they play hard, so we have to be ready for that.

"We want a better start, want to be on the attack a little bit more and throw pucks at the net more. Get that going early and use our speed. With the quickness and speed of our team hopefully that will overcome some of their tight checking and create some offensive opportunities for us."

Defenseman Brett Bellemore, who missed the Calgary game with an upper-body injury, was at practice and close to being able to return.

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